Nuggets advance to Western Conference Finals
Has it soaked in yet? Go ahead and pinch yourself ... it's not a dream. The Denver Nuggets are headed back to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1985.
First things first. Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks. Mavs Moneyball, as they always do, offers up some great analysis from last night's game. Thank you to all the Mavs fans who were a part of Pickaxe and Roll during this series for offering up their insights and opinions throughout. Dallas didn't go down without a fight and played a great offensive game last night.
Led by Dirk Nowitzki's 32 points the Mavs put forth a great effort in Game 5 and throughout the series. Nowitzki averaged 34.4 points per game against the Nuggets. That is unbelievelable. He shouldered the load for his team while Josh Howard somehow played another 33 minutes and scored 14 points, including his teams first seven points.
Jason Kidd also played his finest game of the series going 5-9 from downtown and pouring in 19 points to go along with 9 assists ... was a scary moment when Kidd went down hard after trying to block a KMart dunk. Martin stuck around to make sure his former teammate and future hall of famer was okay and Kidd got a nice hand from the Pepsi Center crowd.
Speaking of that crowd ... the environment at the Pepsi Center was AWESOME! I was once again up in the Melo's Yellows section in 368.
Wanted to share this video with you all of J.R. Smith's alley-oop to Martin with less than a minute to go ...
My boy Rory shot the scene:
That play capped off a mad house night and put an exclamation mark on the series.
The box score says it all as the Nuggets came to play last night as a team. Five Nuggets scored in double digits and Melo led the way with 30 points off 13-22 shooting (4-7 from downtown) in 40 minutes. And the Smilin' Assassin did it all without making a trip to the foul line!
But Melo provided much more than his scoring ... with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal. Kid is a superstar that is playing as well as anyone.
Chauncey Ba-ba-ba Billups flirted with a triple-double with 28 points, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds. CB7 shouldered much of the load in the first half and basically showed through his play that he was going to back up his quote and Denver would not be returning to Dallas.
Billups took an ill advised shot towards the end of the first quarter, but I think we can all agree he has earned the right to not be Mr. Perfect at all times. To mimic a quote heard last night while leaving the game, "Aside from the Elway trade ... bringing Billups in is the best trade in Denver's history."
Whenever the next series begins will mark the 7th straight conference finals for Billups. Guy is a special special player and he's here on OUR team.
It was nice to see Nene return to form last night with thunderous dunks to finish fast breaks. Nene played 41 freaking minutes going 8-10 from the field for 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. The Predator will need to be on the prowl in the WCFs and he is carrying plenty of momentum right now.
I'm still not sure how in the world J.R. Smith can catch the ball while falling away from the hoop and pop three-pointers ... but he did it again last night and provided Denver with a huge game off the bench. The Mavs chose to start Jason Terry, perhaps to get an offensive spark early, but Denver got the better performance from their young star in the making.
J.R. Swish: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 turnover. Smith showed all series long that he should have been the 6th Man of the Year. The Hornets and the Bulls let this kid slip through the cracks and he's pulled his britches up here in Denver, as Billups would say.
It was nice to see Kenyon Martin get himself going last night after a horrific game four. KMart put up 15 points on 5-11 shooting and came up with 4 steals. His quick hands on defense are slick. The next best thing to blocking a shot is never letting that shot take place and Kenyon has mastered that.
While Birdzilla didn't have a high impact on the box score ... his presence was felt at The Can with adults and children flapping their arms at a frantic rate whenever the Bird ... well ... did anything.
Anthony Carter, as much as it pains me to admit it, is a good backup point guard. The guy can play some defense and find the open man on offense. AC scored 8 points last night and one bucket came off a brilliant pass from Melo when Carmelo pretended to shoot an airball (wink) from downtown and AC had the putback layup. Carter also grabbed 5 rebounds and added 3 assists. Let's face it ... AC is a backup and if indeed was perfect like we all want him to be ... he'd be starting somewhere else.
I don't care who the Nuggets play in the next round. I like their chances against anyone. The Nuggets are the darlings of the city and from the looks of this blog ... they have fans around the globe.
Hey ... we're IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS!
Views you can use:
- The Nuggets combined for 31 assists last night. I think I may have even caught a pass at some point ...
- The Nuggets out-rebounded the Mavs 38-30
- The Mavs only mustered 21 defensive rebounds ... probably had something to do with the Nuggets shooting 58.5% last night ...